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Journey Through Matthew: Why All The Stories?

Journey Through Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Our hearts must be cultivated to hear and receive the seed that Christ is sowing in us through the work of the Holy Spirit. If the ground is not ready, the seed will not take root and the plant will die.

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Introduction

Good evening and welcome back!
This evening we are going to continue right on in our Journey Through Matthew.
And tonight we are going to be looking at .
We are going to be looking at one of Jesus’ parables and tonight we are going to be spending some time breaking it down a bit.
Remember Jesus has been engaged in this ongoing confrontation with the Jews and has went to great lengths to explain who he is to them and also show them who he is.
He has also spared no feelings for just telling them pretty much how things were.
Now, in this passage Jesus is going to address his disciples (and other people) and he is going to be sharing some wisdom with them, but in the form of yet another parable.
And the whole passage centers around really a central question that the Disciples ask Jesus, which is found in verse 10.
Which, consequently is where I will be reading from tonight.
So, take just a moment and find , and when you have found it stand with me.
I am actually going read verses 10-17 and then we will break things down a bit.
Again, that is .
Matthew writes. . . .

Scripture Focus

Matthew 13:10–17 NIV - Anglicised
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:10

The Parable Given (vs 1-9)

Now, this whole passage actually stretches throughout the first 23 verses of .
And in it, Jesus is trying to teach the disciples (and the people) through the use of parables, this one about a farmer sowing a field in particular.
And in doing so, it seems as if the disciples are getting a bit frustrated because apparently they are not fully understanding why Jesus is teaching in the form of parables.
Why doesn’t Jesus just plainly tell them?
And the central question that the disciples ask Jesus is found in verse 10 . . .
Matthew 13:10 NIV - Anglicised
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
And we will get into the explanation of that in just a bit, but first, what is the parable all about?
What is Jesus even talking about?
To find out what sparked this question, we go back to verse 1 of chapter 13.
Matthew 13:1–9 NIV - Anglicised
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:1-
So, here we find Jesus again, on that same day, which is the same day as Jesus had the latest confrontation with the Jews that we talked about this morning.
When he told them that the only sign they were going to be getting would be the sign of Jonah.
So, sometime after this, Jesus comes out of the house and he goes down and sits by the lake, but it doesn’t take long for a crowd to form.
And they are all coming because they are anxious to see what Jesus is going to do and say next.
Will he heal someone?
Will he cast out a demon?
What’s going to happen next?
They don’t want to miss it!
But, none of that is what is getting ready to happen.
Jesus is going to take this opportunity to teach the people something.
Which is also a good lesson for us.
I hear people all the time say, “I go to church because I don’t want to miss anything!”
And what they are talking about is just in case there is some sign or wonder that takes place, they don’t want to miss it.
But they miss one of the main points of the church to begin with . Discipleship and Teaching.
It is not all about signs and wonders, it is really about discipleship and preparation for eternity.
However, people really do not want that part.
They are just after a quick fix or what I call “cheap religion.”
They want a touch but that’s it.
Why do you think only about 1/2 the people who come on Sunday morning come to Sunday School?
Or less than 1/2 on Wednesday night?
I’ve heard people say that they don’t “need” Sunday School or Bible study.
Well, we really need it more than the 30 minutes of singing and 20 minutes of preaching on Sunday morning.
And Jesus here is going to give the people, not so much what they wanted but what they needed.
And. . . .
Matthew 13:2 NIV - Anglicised
2 Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.
So, Jesus positions himself where he could be seen and heard really well.
And he tells them a story . . .
Matthew 13:3 NIV - Anglicised
3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.
Which is something that they would all be familiar with.
They lived in rural and farming communities so if there is something they knew about it was sowing seed and growing things.
And this is one reason why Jesus used parables concerning things like farming and building houses, because the people could understand the practical aspect, even if they didn’t quite get the spiritual aspect.
So, he starts by telling them about this farmer who goes out to plant his crop.
And Jesus goes on to tell them . . .
Matthew 13:4–8 NIV - Anglicised
4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:4-
So, this was probably a pretty common occurrence for these people.
They didn’t have modern and precise equipment like we have today and they spread their seed by hand.
You can try and get it all in the right place but there is some that is going to miss the mark, if you will.
Some of the seed fell on the path they were walking.
Nothing was going to grow there because as soon as it fell, the birds were right there for supper!
Then there were places that was not really good ground and was very rocky and some of the seed ended up there.
Guess what, seed can’t grown in the rocks because there are not enough nutrients in the soil.
It may spring up but because there were no deep roots to nourish and protect it, as soon as the sun came out that’s all she wrote. Withered and died!
Then there was some seed that fell in the thorn bushes and weeds.
Well it couldn’t grow because the thorns and thistles stole all the nutrients and sunlight. No go there either!
However, finally there was seed that feel on the good soil as well.
And that seed grew and multiplied, yielding multiple times what was actually sown.
And Jesus puts the exclamation point on this by saying . . .
Matthew 13:9 NIV - Anglicised
9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:
In other words, “listen to what I am saying because it is important!
And to those who have been in church many years and who have probably heard this parable time and time again, the meaning is pretty obvious.
And to Jesus’ disciples at this point the meaning was pretty obvious.
But apparently the people didn’t entirely get it.
And the disciples ask . . .

The Question Asked (vs 10-17)

Matthew 13:10 NIV - Anglicised
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
And the reason they are asking this is because they think “we get it, so everybody else should to.”
And they are also thinking that things would be much quicker and much more efficient if Jesus just told them plainly and not got into all these stories.
They were sort of putting the cart before the horse a bit.
And also, how do we remember better, if someone ties an illustration to a concept or just tells us?
Most of us remember better when there is some sort of illustration that we are familiar with that we can tie the concept back to.
So, Jesus explains to them . . .
Matthew 13:11–12 NIV - Anglicised
11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
Matthew 13:11-
Now, this statement in itself can seem sort of confusing but it doesn’t have to be.
First, Jesus tells them as his close disciples they are privileged to be with him all the time and because of this he is able to tell them and teach them things that he simply can’t tell or teach others in the time he has.
That is really what verse 11 means. However, verse 12 is a bit different.
Again Jesus says . . .
Matthew 13:12 NIV - Anglicised
12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
Now, what Jesus is really referring to here is the spiritual condition of the one hearing the parable.
The disciples understood Jesus because they were spiritually in the right place.
Other people who Jesus taught with parables also understood him because their heart was “turned toward God,” or spiritually they were where they needed to be to hear and understand him.
However, to those who does not have, as Jesus says, they do not have the spiritual awareness or spiritual condition to hear or understand him.
And what they think is their own self-justification and self-saving attitude, what they have, will be taken from them as well.
And Jesus is primarily talking about these religious leaders who think they have it all together and that they know what’s right.
It is just like people today.
Many people who have a lot of fame and power according to human standards are out of touch with the vast majority of humanity as well as being out of touch with God.
They have “made their own way,” and their faith is in themselves, and many times they don’t understand all of this “Jesus business.”
The Pharisees and Sadducees were like this.
But the ordinary people were not, and they were able to understand what Jesus was saying.
Which is what Jesus explains next through Isaiah’s prophecy . . .
Matthew 13:13–15 NIV - Anglicised
13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:13-
In other words, they have done it to themselves .
Jesus continues though . . . .
Matthew 13:16–17 NIV - Anglicised
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

The Parable Explained (vs 18-23)

And then he explains the actual meaning of the parable, which we have also already touched on . . .

The Parable Explained (vs 18-23)

Matthew 13:18–23 NIV - Anglicised
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Altar Call

And for us tonight the question is, how has the seed been planted in us?
Has the evil one came and snatched it away?
Have the cares and troubles of life caused it to wither and die?
Have we heard it and rejoiced, but it never took root?
Or, has it taken root and grows in us?
The way we know is by the fruit we are bearing.
What does that look like for each of you tonight?
So, for just a few minutes open yourselves up to the Holy Spirit.
Allow him to speak to you.
Is he calling you to do anything tonight?
Is he calling anything to your attention that needs to be taken care of?
If he is you have the opportunity to do that tonight.
You can pray where you are or come to the altar.
But I would encourage you to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in this place, tonight.
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